A top New York union leader blasted city officials for allowing former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick to meet with inmates Tuesday at Rikers Island, predicting the visit would only encourage violence against corrections officers.
Elias Husamudeen, president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, issued a blistering statement blaming Mr. Kaepernick’s visit with inmates on Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann.“At a time when jail violence is soaring and assaults on Correction Officers are rising, Commissioner Brann invites Colin Kapernick, [whose] anti-law enforcement sentiment is on full display with the message ‘Pigs’ written on his socks, to speak to a group of inmates who are provided suits and ties to listen to him,” Mr. Husamudeen said.
“This will only encourage inmates to continue to attack Corrections’ Officers at a time when we need more protection,” he said.
Mr. Kaepernick, who was criticized last year for wearing socks at team camp depicting pigs in police hats, spoke to detainees, staff and officers Tuesday at the George Motchan Detention Center in conjunction with the group 100 Suits for 100 Men.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said the trip was arranged through the Department of Correction.
”Colin Kaepernick visited Rikers today to share a message of hope and inspiration,” said DOC spokesman Peter Thorne.
The former San Francisco 49ers star remains a free agent after leading take-a-knee protests last season during the national anthem in a show of protest against police brutality and racism.
The protests have continued this season in his absence. During Week 14 of the NFL season, 18 players either sat or knelt for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” according to the ESPN tally.
Mr. Kaepernick cheered on the protesters Monday, retweeting a photo from his Know Your Rights camp of three San Francisco 49ers players kneeling on the sideline with the caption, “Keep it going!”
In his statement, Mr. Husamudeen also took a swipe at the mayor, blaming him for escalating prison tensions and violence.
“Once again, Correction Officers find themselves caught in Mayor de Blasio’s political con-game,” said Mr. Husamudeen. “This is yet another brazen display of the hypocrisy of this Mayor who pretends to support us in public, yet does everything possible to jeopardize our security in private.”
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips praised Mr. Kaepernick for offering hope to the inmates, calling him “the real deal.”
.@Kaepernick7 visited young adults at Rikers Island this morning. Spent two hours w/ a group of young men & their mentors. No cameras. No promotion. He’s just helping turn around lives many people have given up on. He’s the real deal.
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) December 12, 2017
Mr. Kaepernick filed a grievance in October with the NFL alleging that owners have colluded against him, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted Monday that the free agent has not been blackballed.
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